Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Fallacy of North America

It seems like ages since I left Russia but I'm really only coming to the end of my third week back in Canada. In 3 short weeks I've got a car, a job, a bank account and begun looking for a place to live (34 and staying with my mother may be alright in Russia but is so not cool in Canada).

Despite all this hectic activity, I haven't had time to really adjust to life in the Maritimes. I still feel stuck somewhere between here and there, and the reverse culture shock is unsettling. I've gone through periods of "I love it here!" to "I want to go back to Russia!" I definitely miss some things about Russia, namely, the chaotic freedom, the architectural aesthetics (of Moscow, at least), the beauty of the people (mainly the women) and the feeling of doing something wonderful with my life.

Here in Halifax I feel only the crunch of time and finance. I have a full-time job and it pays better than my English Teacher's salary but it doesn't offer the kind of financial freedom that living rent-free did in Moscow. My schedule is also heavily regulated by work, and I can't be late or negotiate or enjoy long breaks throughout the day.

One thing that really bugs me about life back home is the complete ignorance of the Canadian people to life outside their own little bubble. I can't relate at all with anybody, and when they begin in-depth conversations about what was on TV last night or how much interest they're paying on their mortgage or their car financing, I switch off. How could I ever possibly explain to them the wonders of Moscow, the history of St. Petersburg, the vastness of the steppes, the feeling of standing on Mamaev Kurgan? How could they even care about the wonders of the Moscow Metro or the absolutely mesmerizing femininity of Russian women or the chaos of gypsy taxis? The fact is, they can't.

I found Russians to be much more engaging in conversation, and much more intelligent about the world around them, then Canadians. Russians were always polite and interested in different places, whereas Canadians have that irritating North American smugness. I also find Canadians incredibly dishonest and feel like everyone is out to rip me off. In Russia, I KNEW everyone was out to rip me off but those I counted as friends I could trust 100%.

In many ways Russia is superior to Canada. Canada's infrastructure is stable, the air is clean, the society well-organized, democracy and the rule of law is healthy and the economy is sound, but the culture really sucks. The exact opposite is true for Russia.

This is mainly the effect of reverse culture-shock, and with time and patience I'll become numb to the glaring hypocrasies I see around me, and eventually I'll become another ignorant dumb-ass Canadian. I do love living in Nova Scotia, however, and ultimately this province is superior in many ways to snooty British Columbia (and the beaches here are better). For me, however, there is no difference right now between people from the Maritimes and people from the west coast, or people from Florida or Wisconsin for that matter. That North American attitude is really grinding on me, and I miss the deep cultural wonder and beauty of Russia and Europe.


  1. You've fallen in love with Russia.
    Congratulations :)

  2. One Russian radio station in Moscow discussed your blog yesterday. Your 50 facts about Russians are funny and correct. Spasibo.